Recording Reviews: Richard Deane; Steven Cohen

I seldom post recording reviews on this site, but every once in a while I either receive a complimentary album in the mail, or hear about a project that piques my interest. To close out a series of reviews from this summer, here are two horn recordings that are well worth your time.

Mid-Century Sonatas for Horn and PianoRichard Deane, horn; Timothy Whitehead, piano

  • Halsey Stevens, Sonata for Horn and Piano (1953)
  • Paul Hindemith, Sonata für Althorn in Es und Klavier (1943/1956)
  • Bernard Heiden, Sonata for Horn and Piano (1939)
  • Paul Hindemith, Sonata für Horn und Klavier (1939)
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These sonatas for horn and piano by Halsey Stevens, Paul Hindemith, and Bernard Heiden are staples in the repertoire. Deane is Associate Principal Horn in the New York Philharmonic, and served as Acting Principal for the 2017-18 season. He was previously a member of the Atlanta Symphony for many years. Though the repertoire is conventional, the extremely high caliber of the performances makes this recording special. Deane plays with a huge but focused sound. To my ear the “New York sound” has changed over the years, partially due to changes in equipment, I’m sure, but also probably as a response to the ever increasing demands of the job. Whitehead’s piano playing is equally impressive – especially in the final movement of the Hindemith E-flat Sonata – and is a fitting musical counterpart to the horn in these works.  There is not much in the way of liner notes, but there is a very nice video on YouTube with background about the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP-kJf8xiJM  One other interesting note about this album is that Whitehead not only performed on piano, but did all of the recording, producing, editing, and mixing – not a small feat! The recording is both vibrant and clear, and for those who might be interested the recording equipment is listed in the liner notes.

Cruise Control: Horn Music from Five Emerging American Composers – Steven Cohen, horn; Jed Moss, piano; Scott Shinbara, percussion; Amanda Sealock, percussion

  • James Naigus, Sonata for Horn and Piano
  • Jenni Brandon, Dawn for Horn in F and Piano
  • Adam Wolf, Cruise Control for Horn, Piano and Percussion
  • Wayne Lu, Pranayama
  • Gina Gillie, Sonata for Horn and Piano
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Cruise Control is a contrasting but equally interesting album by New York City freelancer Steven Cohen, and features world premiere recordings by several up and coming American composers. This project was sponsored by Siegfried’s Call, with a significant portion of the funding generated through an Indiegogo campaign. Be sure to check out the Indiegogo link for more information about the project and the commissioning process.

The music on this disc is fun and fresh, and showcases what I think the horn does best: play beautiful melodies and exhibit a variety of timbres. Cohen navigates the full range of the horn with ease and expression (using similar equipment to Richard Deane, a triple horn by Engelbert Schmid). Stylistically there is a bit of everything on this recording, from Neo-romanticism in the Sonatas by James Naigus and Gina Gillie to Minimalism and Rock in Cruise Control by Adam Wolf, and avant garde extended techniques in the works by Jenni Brandon and Wayne Lu. This recording is a musical and technical tour de force, and serves as a great resource for anyone interested in new music for the horn.

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Trios for Horn, Trombone, and Tuba

k32067000000000-00-500x500A colleague from another university contacted me recently to ask for some recommendations about low brass trios (horn, trombone, tuba). Having just performed a program featuring music for this ensemble at the International Trombone Festival and the International Horn Symposium, I was interested to see what other repertoire might be out there. Based on a cursory search of my favorite online music retailers (and a few other places), here’s what turned up. It’s a more limited selection than the high brass trio, but more than I thought would be readily available. *This list only includes original works, not arrangements or transcriptions. I haven’t performed very many of these, although several of them look promising based on what I know of the composers’ other works. As I mentioned in my presentation at IHS 50, low and high brass trios are ripe for scholarship and creative activity in the form of recordings, commissions, arrangements, etc. If you have an interest in brass chamber music beyond the standard quintet, give the brass trio a serious look.

IHS 50 Report, Part 2

IMG_20180731_212023752Today was the second full day of the 50th International Horn Symposium (Read my report on Day 1 here). My schedule consisted of attending parts of several concerts and presentations, connecting and reconnecting with a few colleagues, rehearsing with my brass trio for our performance tomorrow, and buying some new music and recordings.

I started the day with a presentation by musical legend David Amram called “Fundamentals of Jazz, Blues in F” Over the years I’ve performed his Blues and Variations for Monk several times, and have also read one of his books, Vibrations. Amram is a unique and multifaceted personality, and his session turned out to be much more than just an introduction to jazz. (I also got to hear Douglas Hill play some jazz bass.)  Mr. Amram shared some inspiring words about what it means to be a musician, and to attend the “University of Hang-out-ology.” I took this to mean that one of the best ways to grow as a musician (and person) is to surround yourself with people who challenge and inspire you, and to try to learn everything you can from them – excellent advice!

Next came a visit to a few exhibitor tables to buy some sheet music, including Gina Gillie’s new Sonata for Horn, commissioned and recorded by Steven Cohen on his new album, Cruise Control. I also found a chamber work that’s been on my to-do list for a while, Simon Sargon’s “Huntsman, What Quarry?” for soprano, horn, and piano. Lastly, I picked up a copy of “Twenty Difficult Etudes for the Horn’s Middle Register” by Daniel Grabois. Looking forward to working on this new repertoire in the future.

After lunch I checked out part of the 1:00 p.m. concert, which included a preview performance of William Bolcom’s new Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano (2017), which was commissioned by Steven Gross. It was a really interesting work, not necessarily technically flashy, but with some very interesting timbres and melodies. Definitely one to keep your eye out for when it’s published.

The later afternoon consisted of rehearsing with my low brass trio for a repeat performance of the program we did at the International Trombone Festival a few weeks ago. Rehearsal went well, and we are ready for our performance on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. Afterwards I ate dinner with two colleagues, Eli Epstein and Stacie Mickens. Both are fantastic horn players and teachers, and I’m very glad to have spent some time talking with them over dinner.

The 7:30 p.m. concert was outstanding, featuring international soloist Frank Lloyd and Josh Williams, First Prize Winner in the Professional Division of the 2017 International Horn Competition of America. Their program consisted of all 20th and 21st-century works, with several that included jazz influences. Here’s a partial list of the repertoire.

David Amram, Blues and Variations for Monk for unaccompanied horn
Richard Bissill, Sic Itur Ad Astra for horn and piano
Richard Bissill, Song of a New World for horn and piano
Frank Lloyd, horn, David Mamedov, piano
-Intermission-
Lawrence Lowe, Sonata No. 1 for horn and piano (III. Caccia)
Margaret Brouwer, SCHerZOid for solo horn
Alec Wilder, Suite for horn and piano
Amir Zaheri, Secret Winter for horn and piano
Anthony DiLorenzo, The Phoenix Sonata for horn and piano
Joshua Williams, horn, Kathia Bonna, piano

 

Mr. Lloyd’s playing was dazzling as usual, though he is now performing on an Alexander horn instead of an Engelbert Schmid. There were also several additions to his program: “Raptor Music,” composed for him by Douglas Hill, a virtuosic unaccompanied work featuring lots of extended techniques, and an “F Blues” from 15 Low Horn Etudes by Ricardo Matosinhos. Mr. Williams was equally stunning in his performance, ending with the epic Phoenix Sonata by Anthony DiLorenzo. This work is getting performed more and more, and it’s easy to hear why. Though challenging, it is an effective and engaging piece. One note about my experience of tonight’s concert is that I was able to watch the second half from my hotel room (while working on some other work-related tasks), as the IHS has been streaming Featured Artist concerts on Facebook live. I stumbled across this by accident, and I must have missed any publicity announcing it. It’s a fantastic service that I hope will continue at future symposia. Even if you can’t be here in Muncie, tune in for the 7:30 p.m. concerts this week where ever you are!

 

 

High School Recruiting Trip FAQ

As part of a busy month of performances, the members of Black Bayou Brass (resident faculty brass trio at ULM) presented a series of concerts at several high schools in southern Louisiana. The concerts went well, and our audiences were very eager and attentive. There are some strong instrumental music programs in that part of the state, and it was our pleasure to perform for them. After doing these kinds of performances for a few years, I’ve started to notice some commonly asked questions from students, which are compiled in this FAQ. The first two provide some background information about the group and our program from this year’s performances, but the rest are based on actual questions we’ve received from students.

  • Who are you? We are the Black Bayou Brass, the resident faculty brass ensemble in the Department of Music at The University of Louisiana at Monroe. Our current members are Alex Noppe (trumpet), James Boldin (horn), and James Layfield (trombone). (After our opening number one of us usually introduces the group and mentions a little bit about our performing and teaching duties.)
  • What pieces are you going to play? Our program varies widely depending on what repertoire we are currently preparing for upcoming recitals, but we have worked very hard over the past few years to put together an engaging, lively set of pieces for young audiences. Much of our repertoire is home-grown, having been arranged by current or former members of the ensemble. For this tour we performed the following:
    • A Philharmonic Fanfare, Eric Ewazen
    • Duncan Trio, David Sampson (selected movements)
    • Csárdás, Vittorio Monti/arr. James Boldin (trombone feature)
    • Trio, Daniel Schnyder (selected movements)
    • Rondo, from Horn Concerto, K. 495, W.A. Mozart/arr. James Boldin (horn feature)
    • Libertango, Astor Piazzolla/arr. Anna Suechting
    • Finale from William Tell Overture, G. Rossini/arr. James Layfield
    • Flight of the Bumblebee, Rimsky-Korsakov/arr. Micah Everett
  • How often do you rehearse? Once a week for two hours.  Most students are surprised by this answer, and we always take the opportunity when students ask this question to stress how important it is to come into rehearsal having already prepared the music to a very high level. A group rehearsal is not for individual practice, but rather to put together the music as an ensemble. Unless a piece is quite difficult (Jan Bach, Daniel Schnyder, etc.), it really doesn’t take us (or any other professional group) that many rehearsals to have it ready for performance.
  • How long have you been playing your instruments? I’ve been playing the horn for over 20 years.
  • What kinds of scholarships are available for music students? This is a big question, and varies widely depending on the size and resources of a particular institution. At ULM we have good scholarships for both music majors as well as students that aren’t majoring in music but who want to continue playing their instruments in a college ensemble. These awards can include out-of-state tuition waivers as well as other types of scholarships. In addition to music-related scholarships, our university has several prestigious academic scholarships for high-achieving students. This brings me to the next question in this FAQ.
  • What can I do to improve my chances of getting a scholarship or increasing the amount of  a scholarship? If you want to major in music I think you need to focus on two main things as a high school student. The first is reaching the highest level of proficiency you can in your concentration, whether it’s performance, education, composition, theory, etc. For music education and performance you should strive to play (or sing) as well as you possibly can by your senior year. Take regular lessons with a qualified private instructor, and pursue as many different performing opportunities as you can, not just All-State band or orchestra. Form a chamber group, and request coaching from local university faculty or symphony musicians. For some specific ideas on what to practice, check out this post. If you want to major in music theory or composition, you should already have some experience in both areas by the time you go to college. Take responsibility for your education; go online and find help, or better yet, reach out to area teachers and ask for their input. The second area of focus is your grades. Grades matter! No matter how talented you are, there are very few music schools that will accept you (or award a scholarship) if your grades are poor. If your GPA is suffering be proactive and take the proper steps to improve it: ask for extra help from your teachers or seek out tutoring services in the community. Trust me, earning good grades will pay off when it comes time to apply for college scholarships and financial aid.

There are lots of other questions I could add, but these cover the major concerns I’ve heard from hundreds of students in dozens of high schools. Is there a question you think should be on this FAQ? Feel free to comment below.

Desert Island Discs: Horn World Edition

I’m a big fan of Desert Island Discs, a BBC Radio 4 program. Created in 1941, the show is an institution in Great Britain. The premise is simple, described here in this quote from the show’s website.

That first Desert Island Discs was recorded in the BBC’s bomb-damaged Maida Vale studio on 27th January 1942 and aired in the Forces Programme at 8pm two days later. It was introduced to the listening public as “a programme in which a well-known person is asked the question, if you were to be cast away alone on a desert island, which eight gramophone records would you choose to have with you, assuming of course, that you had a gramophone and an inexhaustible supply of needles”.

There are similar shows in this country, but none that I’m aware of with the prestige and breadth of Desert Island Discs. If you can imagine conductor Michael Tilson Thomas hosting a show like Saturday Night Live, that might approximate the scope of the BBC radio program. The spectrum of personalities who have appeared on the show range from Dennis Brain to J.K. Rowling and Margaret Thatcher. Asking people about their favorite music might seem like a superficial way to interview them, but it’s obvious from the reputation and longevity of Desert Island Discs that there is much more to it than the average radio show. Especially in the case of artists like Dennis Brain – who were tragically lost at a young age – each list of recordings stands as a small window into their lives and personality. Looking at Brain’s list (aired in March, 1956), there are the usual items that would probably appear on any horn player’s list – music by Richard Strauss, Franz Liszt, and Benjamin Britten – but recordings by Tommy Dorsey, Mitch Miller, and Frank Sinatra also have significant positions. Other prominent horn players who have appeared on the show include Barry Tuckwell and Alan Civil.Tuckwell’s broadcast is also notable because it is available for download from the Desert Island Discs archive.

Ok, now that you’ve been introduced to the show, it’s your turn! I’d love to hear which eight recordings you’d take with you to a deserted island. They can be any genre, and can be individual tracks or entire albums. Here’s my list, in no particular order. If there are enough responses perhaps it might be worth adding a thread to the “Horn People” group on Facebook or creating a separate group entirely for people to post their lists.

1. Shared Reflections: The Legacy of Philip Farkas
2. The London Horn Sound
3. John Williams, Saving Private Ryan, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
4. Gabriel Fauré, Requiem and Orchestral Music, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson
5. Burkhard Dallwitz, The Truman Show, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
6. Alison Krauss, Now That I’ve Found You
7. Empire Brass, Class Brass: Orchestral Favorites Arranged for Brass
8. Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti *Not sure if this would be allowed on the actual Desert Island Discs since it is a multi-disc set. If I had to choose one of the symphonies I would probably go with Symphony No. 2.

More Videos

Here are a few more videos of interest to horn players, the first being the newly-updated video page on this site. Rather than embedding all of the clips (which made the page load more slowly), the videos are now categorized and hyper-linked. Feel free to give them a look!

Next is an excellent video produced by the U.S. Army Field Band. Titled Horn Playing Past and Present, the video provides a nice historical background, as well as playing tips and several musical examples featuring the U.S. Army Field Band horn section. It’s nice to see this content being made available on YouTube (by the Field Band), as it was previously only available directly from the band and wasn’t for sale.

The last video for today is from a performance given by Black Bayou Brass (resident faculty brass ensemble here at ULM) in Thailand at Mahidol University on June 5, 2012. The performance was broadcast on public television in Thailand, and we were generously provided a copy of the broadcast. Overall I think the concert comes across very well, with some nice camera work and onscreen titles. Thanks again to Daren Robbins, Horn Professor at Mahidol University, for procuring a copy of the video for us.

Review: hornetudes.com

Hornetudes.com is an excellent new resource created by Ricardo Matosinhos, a professional horn player and teacher in Portugal. You can read his full bio for more details, but in short Dr. Matosinhos is an experienced player and teacher with a diverse musical background. Among his other horn-related projects are the Horn’s Pocket Guide, a handy reference for horn players of all levels, 12 Jazzy Etudes for Horn, and two more etude collections pending publication.

I’ve spent some time over the last few days perusing hornetudes.com, and I can already tell that it will be an invaluable resource for students, teachers, and professional players. According to the description on the home page, hornetudes.com is meant to accompany Ricardo’s dissertation, titled Selected and Annotated Bibliography of Horn Etudes Published Between 1950 and 2011. This site takes the form of an interactive database with numerous search options encompassing a substantial catalog of etudes for horn. I should also add that the site is being regularly updated with new additions, which Ricardo posts on the hornetudes.com Facebook page. Users can browse through the bibliography alphabetically, or display entries according to publisher, difficulty level, size, and/or country and date of publication. Here’s a screen shot showing one of the entries.

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Title and author are listed at the top of the entry, in this case Sixteen Studies for French Horn by Verne Reynolds. This entry caught my eye because I was not aware of another set of etudes by Reynolds in addition to his “great 48,” or 48 Etudes for French Horn. Each entry contains a wealth of information, such as publication date – these studies were actually published after the 48 Etudes – publisher’s website, range, difficulty level, number of etudes, dynamic ranges, extended techniques required, and the average length of each etude. Helpful annotations can also be found at the end of the entry. For these studies, the following explanation for their being little known is provided.

Unlike its [sic] 48 studies, these are written in a tonal language. Having been published only three years after the 48 studies did not have the same acceptance, being now out of print and hard to find.

Though they are out of print, I plan to keep my eyes open for a set of these rare etudes, and I wouldn’t have known about them without the information contained on hornetudes.com. It’s a great website, and potentially a very powerful tool for research. Congratulations Ricardo, and thank you for providing this resource!

Aubrey and Dennis Brain Online

Stephen Gamble, one of the authors of the new biography Dennis Brain: A Life in Music, recently passed along a link to a great website full of additional information on Brain’s father Aubrey.  Located here, the site is actually a part of dennisbrain.net, a compendium of various resources on Dennis Brain’s life and career.   John Ericson has posted a more detailed review at Horn Matters, which is of course recommended reading.  Dr. Gamble has put together some great stuff here, and it makes a nice companion to his new Dennis Brain biography.   Speaking of biographies, in our correspondence Dr. Gamble also mentioned a forthcoming project on Aubrey Brain – see his comment below, quoted from this blog comment.

I have an enormous amount of material about Aubrey Brain’s career that is not mentioned on those web pages, including original documents, most of which were actually once in his possession and given to me by a member of the family. I intend to publish a biography (possibly an ebook) some time in the future on Aubrey Brain but can’t give a date for that yet. There’s a lot more to learn about his career but it’s unlikely much personal information will come to light at this distance in time.

This promises to be a fantastic project as well, and I look forward to reading it.  Perusing this site got me thinking about other online resources for research on Dennis and Aubrey Brain, so I thought I’d put together a brief list, starting with the sites mentioned above.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  If you know of any other useful online resources on Dennis and Aubrey Brain feel free to comment below.

New Research Tool: Culturomics

I just heard about a digital resource which went online yesterday. Called Culturomics, this tool allows a researcher to comb through the last two hundred years of books and chart the frequency with which specific words occur.  Here’s a more detailed description of the database, as well as some words of caution about its limitations,  from the “Interpretation” page.

The Google Labs N-gram Viewer is the first tool of its kind, capable of precisely and rapidly quantifying cultural trends based on massive quantities of data. It is a gateway to culturomics! The browser is designed to enable you to examine the frequency of words (banana) or phrases (‘United States of America’) in books over time. You’ll be searching through over 5.2 million books: ~4% of all books ever published!

There are lots of different things you can check, like your favorite word (Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) or person (President Taft; Chief Justice Taft) or part of the holiday (Christmas Tree).

It can be fun to compare things, too; whether it’s people (Galileo, Darwin, Freud, Einstein), pieces of music (Beethoven’s First, Beethoven’s Second, Beethoven’s Third, Beethoven’s Fourth, Beethoven’s Fifth, Beethoven’s Sixth, Beethoven’s Seventh, Beethoven’s Eighth, Beethoven’s Ninth), facts about grammar (sneaked, snuck), or increasingly precise values for the speed of light (‘2.99796, 2.997925, 2.99792458’).

The browser allows you to search different collections of books (called ‘corpora’). You’ll definitely want to try taking advantage of more than one corpus. For instance, compare ‘centre, center’ in both American and British English. Corpora are available in English, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish, so you can examine effects in many different cultures and compare them to one another (‘feminism’ in English vs. ‘féminisme’ in French, for instance.) If you look carefully, you can occasionally see evidence of censorship (such as ‘Marc Chagall’ in the German corpus under the Nazis.)
But even with all that data, you’ll need to carefully interpret your results. Some effects are due to changes in the language we use to describe things (‘The Great War’ vs. ‘World War I’). Others are due to actual changes in what interests us (note how ‘slavery’ peaks during the Civil War and during the Civil Rights movement.)

Watch out for the time period your are looking into: the best data is the data for English between 1800 and 2000. Before 1800, there aren’t enough books to reliably quantify many of the queries that first come to mind; after 2000, the corpus composition undergoes subtle changes around the time of the inception of the Google Books project. The other corpora are smaller, and can’t be used to go as far back in time; their metadata has also not been subjected to as much scrutiny as English in the bicentennial period.

Notice that the potential for music research is included in the above description.  Data is displayed in the form of a graph, which plots the frequency of occurrence by decade.   After just a few minutes of playing around with the search engine, I found some pretty interesting stuff!  For example, here’s a screen capture of the graph (click on the image for a larger version) showing data for the search term “French horn” [obtained from http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/]

Notice the spike in the graph – use of the words “French horn” – at least in the documents archived in this database – seem to peak between 1940 and 1950.  What does that mean?  I have no idea!  But it is suggestive, and seems like a viable topic for further research. Hooked yet?  How about another search term, this time “Kopprasch.”

The peak this time is between 1980 and 2000.  Again, the interpretation of this data would take a bit more research, but having these kind of raw statistics at your fingertips is an amazing tool in itself .  And for a final example, how about “horn concerto?”

As you can already see, there are numerous possibilities for this search engine in music research, and I’m sure it will see much more use over the coming weeks and months.

On another note, I’ll be probably be posting less frequently over the next couple of weeks because of the holidays, but I plan to resume regular posts in the New Year.  I want to wish all of my readers a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

Stage Presence

Stage presence, and the larger issue of representing oneself as an artist, are two things which I think definitely should be covered as part of a musician’s education.  However, this education doesn’t always have to take place in the classroom or teaching studio; tremendous knowledge can also be gained by closely observing other artists and their demeanor both on and off stage. Other bloggers have written wonderfully on this topic (see links at the end of this post), but I thought I’d throw a few of my thoughts into the mix as well. These are simply a few random tips I’ve put together based on my own experience and through watching skilled musicians, actors, and other performing artists.

1) Consider stage presence as a tool for creating more effective performances. Because we spend a tremendous amount of time and effort perfecting the audible part of our craft, we often neglect the visual component of a performance. Performances not only need to sound good, they need to look good. One activity that I find useful is to think of every action on stage as part of the performance.  This is something singers seem to do more naturally than brass players, and I think we can learn a great deal from studying not only vocalists’ phrasing, but their body language as well. Try to cut down on extraneous motion, and instead try to channel that excess energy into the performance.  This can prove quite difficult, especially if certain mannerisms and other idiosyncrasies have become habitually ingrained.  On a personal note, I was inspired to work on improving my own stage presence based on the input of my most trusted friend and confidant – my wife!  Ask your friends and colleagues to watch your own performing and evaluate it based not on what they hear, but what they see instead.  This can be a very beneficial, if somewhat humbling, process.

2) Let your stage presence be an outward representation of your highest artistic goals. We’ve all experienced performances where we didn’t feel our best, and maybe even would rather have been doing something else at the time. But the bottom line is that the audience – especially a paying audience – doesn’t care.  They are there to be inspired, entertained, and otherwise lifted out of the humdrum of daily life.  Our body language on stage should present our best side to the audience – the part of us that is engaged, energetic, and feels privileged to be there.  It may not be how we actually feel at the time, but changing our physical actions often has a positive effect on our emotions. Try this activity sometime when you aren’t feeling at your best about a performance – imagine that you are a world-famous soloist (take your pick) about to perform on stage in a famous concert hall.  What would your body language be?  How would you walk out onto that stage in front of thousands of adoring fans?  Our brains respond very powerfully to imagery, both positive and negative, and going through a simple exercise like the above can do wonders for our mood and stage presence.

3) Explore some type of study in movement. One trait that both gifted performers and athletes seem to have is an uncanny awareness of their own bodies and those around them.  I highly recommend some kind of movement study for all performers, as it helps us become more aware of our physical actions. I have rarely heard anyone say that studying the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Creative Motion, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, etc. had a negative effect on their performing.

4) Observe other artists and their stage presence. We listen to recordings of great artists for inspiration and ideas, so why shouldn’t we try to learn from their stage presence as well? I wouldn’t suggest that someone try to copy the stage presence of a well-known soloist anymore than I would suggest that they try to sound exactly like that soloist, but I think it is incredibly important to take note of those things we would like to emulate in our own performances. There is no need to name names – there are plenty of amazing performers out there to watch – and with YouTube, streaming concert videos, and DVD recordings, we can review performances as many times as we want.  

5) Use autogenic phrases prior to going on stage. The moments right before we walk on stage can be very powerful, depending on how we use them. Try coming up with a few words or some short phrases which sum up the excitement and joy of performing for you, and say them out loud right before you walk out on stage.  If you don’t feel like saying them out loud just write or type them on a card and look at them before you enter the stage. If you don’t think it will break your concentration too much, you can also experiment with thinking of a humorous moment or word to help lighten the mood.  We take what we do very seriously – as we should – but the reality is that playing the horn isn’t brain surgery or rocket science.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a brief reminder that the fate of the world doesn’t hinge on our performances.  

For more information on stage presence, check out the following posts.

Horn Insights: Jeffrey Agrell’s Horn Blog, Sprezzatura Time

Horn Insights: Jeffrey Agrell’s Horn Blog, Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Horn Insights: Jeffrey Agrell’s Horn Blog, Moving and Music Making

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